As we head into this, the fifth (and penultimate) season of Justified it's tempting to look back at what's worked and what hasn't. The episodic nature of the first season was fun, but not as engaging as it might be. The second season is widely hailed as the best of the series with the epic Bennett/Givens feud drawing all the major players into a tightly knit and central plot. The third season stumbled a little by casting too wide a net and trying to incorporate too many new players. Between Quarles and Limehouse we lost the focus on Raylan and Boyd a bit. Last season brought it back home with the central arc (Drew Thompson) once again mining the past and digging up Crowder and Givens history. This season? Well we've got a bit of the Bennett clan redux with the return of Dewey and his kin. But we also also have our heroes, Boyd and Raylan, struggling with the fallout of last season. Despite the fact that the first episode was far flung (Detroit and Florida), it still felt very close to home. It helps that the show has been on long enough that a lot of the "new" regulars are old familiar faces (and fan favorites). With both Dewey and Wynn Duffy taking a bigger part, this is bound to be a delightful season.
Of course in a show like Justified that is packed to the rafters with new and exciting characters, there are always going to have to be sacrifices. Will there be room for a whole murder of Crowes and the rest of the deputies? Tim and Rachel's absence was keenly felt. The other big struggle this season will be how to incorporate Ava Crowder in the main plot. Joelle Carter is still a series regular but how can she be regularly involved if she's behind bars? Will her stay last as long as Boyd's did? Or will it be more like Arlo's? Can they get away with popping people in and out of jail? I think Ava has to stay behind bars in order to provide Boyd with his motivation but, I mean, eventually her hair is going to be less flippy and shiny, right? Or does she have an in with the underground velcro curler market?
At some point people will stop underestimating Boyd. Until then, that bridge is going to keep seeing a lot of action.
Much like it does with characters, Justified does an amazing job of recycling locations. This all serves to make the universe feel smaller and more real. Where would we be without the Wynn-ebago or Audrey's? The whorehouse and all the trailer homes therein now belongs to Dewey Crowe. He's got another old familiar face, Wade Messer, working the bar. It's always nice to see James LeGros.
Is this a call back shot? Justified isn't well known for that. That's more of a Mad Men or Breaking Bad kind of thing, but given that the episode started with a catalogue of Raylan's sins, I think we're going to start to see some accountability for Deputy Givens' past sins. This one being the most egregious.
Just as we learned about Hill People last season, this year we've got some insights into the Haitian culture with the Crowe cohort Jean Baptiste aka The Gator Man (Edi Gathegi). Did you notice him dropping marshmallows into the water? That's a thing. Raylan dropped a clumsy Creole reference when he called Jean Baptiste "Tonton Macoute." He was promptly put in his place.
We met a whole murder of Crowes this episode (best. wordplay. ever.) including Danny, Dylan, Daryl and Wendy. I'm actually quite fond of what Rapaport did in his scene with Olyphant. There was something DEEPLY southern happening with his accent. I'm also quite fond of Alicia Witt's slightly trashy paralegal. She hightailed it back to Miami at the end of the episode but I hope that's not the last we see of her mini-skirted ass. That move with the car crash was delightfully resourceful.
In addition to The Crowes, we got The Canucks. I love this show so damn much for so many reasons but high on the list has to be the perverse casting of two beloved comedians (Kids In The Hall's Dave Foley and MadTV's Will Sasso) as a bunch of hard-nosed criminals. It doesn't look like they'll be recurring and, in fact, if the drug plot is going to move forward it looks like they'll be heading to Mexico rather than continuing to deal with the Canadian pipeline. Nonetheless, this was brilliant. "We're not those kind of Canadians."
Ava in prison means Boyd has his back against the wall. Which means he's making mistakes. I can forgive a lot of his errors in this episode but Boyd, buddy, you forgot Rule #2 and you left Lee Paxton alive with his mail order Doctor bride. Sloppy at best, friend.
Detroit Drug Runner 1, Detroit Drug Runner 2 aka Ross, Detroit Drug Runner and Donny (Cause Of Death: This Not Being Boyd's First Rodeo)
Coast Guard Simon Lee (Cause Of Death: Ill-Timed Stutter Humor)
Dewey Crowe's Above Ground Pool (Cause Of Death: Raylan Not Giving A Sh*t)
The Chainsaw Guy, The Canadian In The Bathtub, Sammy Tonin (Cause Of Death: Mr. Picker Making A Deal)
Dilly Crowe (Cause Of Death: Being A Sc-sc-sc-screw-up)
Elvis Manuel Machado (Cause Of Death: Deputies Sutter and Givens Getting 'R Done)
Lee Paxton (Cause Of Death: Boyd's Temper)
Deputy Marshal Rachel Brooks and Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson Line Count
Rachel=NONE ZERO ZILCH NADA.
Tim=NOT A WORD.
Winona Hawkins B*tchwatch: At this point I think we all have to concede that Raylan is the b*tch in this relationship.
"Yeah, that was last week." -- Tonin thug, Mr. Picker
The Gist: I think the major theme of this season is going to be "keeping your family together." That was the point of Daryl Crowe's made-up story about his death bed promise to his daddy. We're watching Boyd move heaven and earth to reunite with Ava and we're watching Raylan wriggle away from his familial pull. We'll see how this pans out for the outlaw and the lawman.
Podcast: I'm doing a podcast on this season of Justified. Give it a listen!
Joanna Robinson has her own pet theories about the blow-up dolls and what happened last week. Big ups, as usual, to Chet Manley and his fantastic gif work.